Moral philosophy and moral psychology in mencius

Asian Philosophy 8 (1):47 – 64 (1998)
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Abstract

This paper defends both an interpretation of Mencius' moral theory and that theory itself against alternative interpretive defences. I argue that the 'virtue ethics' reading of Mencius wrongly sees him as denying the distinction between moral philosophy and moral psychology. Virtue ethics is flawed, because it makes such a denial. But Mencius' moral theory, in spite of Mencius' obvious interest in moral psychology, does not have that flaw. However, I argue that Mencius is no rationalist. Instead, I show that he upholds a coherentist moral theory, in which reason and psychology both have a role. The final third of the paper compares my interpretation with the work of various important Mencius scholars. I point out that the issue of the difference between moral philosophy and moral psychology is quite important in contemporary Western moral theory.

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James Ryan
University of Miami (PhD)

References found in this work

The moral problem.Michael Smith - 1994 - Cambridge, Mass., USA: Blackwell.
Varieties of moral personality: ethics and psychological realism.Owen Flanagan - 1991 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Mencius.D. C. Lau - 1984 - Penguin Classics. Edited by D. C. Lau.
Mencius and early Chinese thought.Kwong-loi Shun - 1997 - Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

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